Saturday, April 23, 2016
How Tobacco use deprived Ugandans of the' Father' of Arsenal's brand of football
Many Ugandans are ardent fans of Arsenal FC's style of football and Barcelona's attack-minded blend of Soccer.Many analysts agree this has a lot to do with one man. Johan Cruyff. Arsene Wenger, Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola have variously acknowledged being influenced by Johan Cruyff's football philosophy. The Dutchman had an illustrious stint with the Dutch national football team famously captaining it to the 1974 World Cup final which they lost to West Germany. He later coached Barcelona to unprecedented success. The Dutchman even has a striker's dribbling manouever named after him. The Cruyff turn is a scenario where a striker makes a swift 180 degrees turn away from a defender. Dennis Bergkamp, Arsenal fans recall,executed this move in the twilight of his career there. Johan Cruyff would still be with us today to inspire more Arsenals and Barcelonas if it wasn't for one tragic habit-cigarette smoking. He passed away about two months ago from lung cancer. Tobacco use is responsible for 90% of all lung cancer deaths in men. Johan Cruyff repeatedly admitted that cigarette smoking had a lot to with the cancer that finally claimed his life and a heart bypass operation he underwent when he was still a football coach. '' Football gave me everything but tobacco almost took it all away'' said Johan Cruyff when it seemed that he would beat the lung cancer. Later in life, he emerged as unlikely poster boy for tobacco control causes. As we commemorate World No Tobacco Day today, it is an opportune moment to go beyond regurgitating the statistics of the victims of tobacco to reflect on the human face of the tobacco epidemic and the one billion lives tobacco use is set to claim this century unless action is taken. WHO has selected plain tobacco plain packaging as this year's World No Tobacco Day theme. Australia led the world in implementing a plain tobacco packaging rule. This simply means that if you buy a packet of cigarettes in Australia you will not find the manufacturer's colours and brand displayed on a cigarette packet as is the case in Uganda today. The United Kingdom implemented the plain tobacco packaging rule this month with France and Ireland set to follow suit this year. Clearly, tobacco packaging is a form of advertising and research has determined that glossy cigarette brand packaging makes smoking seem attractive and induces demand especially among impressionable young people. Last year, the Parliament of Uganda passed a Tobacco Control law which was assented to by President Museveni.The Tobacco Control Act(2015) provides for increasing the size of health warnings on tobacco packaging to provide for messages such as ''Smoking harms your health and those around you'' complete with graphic images illustrating tobacco-associated illnesses such as throat cancer. The Uganda Tobacco control law came into force on 19th May 2016 following a 6-months period since it was gazetted.At this year's World No Tobacco Day in Kampala, a ceremony has been organized to mark the coming into force of the new Tobacco control law. The Ministry of Health and CSO partners are in the process of passing regulations to give full effect to the Tobacco Control law to save the next generation of Ugandans. In Kenya, passage of the tobacco control law was greeted with law suits from the tobacco industry and in Uganda the industry is expected to follow a similar template. Johan Cruyff would not approve of such moves. His story is testimony to kind of lives the law seeks to protect in the first place.